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Bass amps used by bands on Letterman/Leno/O'Brien

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by the dude, Sep 23, 2004.

  1. the dude

    the dude Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    First, I realize that the amp you see a pro musician (or at least the big names) using may or may not be 100% their 1st choice. After all, if they get it for free - or for an endorsement - who can blame them.

    Over the past few months, I've tivo'd many of these shows and I'd say an easy 80%+ of the bass players play the Ampeg 810 cab with the VST Classic head. There have been a few exceptions, but even then, they will frequently use the 810 cabinet and a different Ampeg head - or in one case (George Reeves) an Ashdown EVO 500.

    I'm thinking either 1) Ampeg is by far the #1 choice of these guys (and many are not necessarily big enough names to get free gear) or 2) the show has one sitting around and hey, it's easier to use that than to lug in whatever is in the truck - and it's not like the SVT is a bad choice.

    Anybody have any first hand experience with this? It's not a big deal, just something I am curious about.
  2. yea, over the summer i watched all the late night shows and usually the bands always used ampeg svts and 8x10s. connan had alot of bands with the svt and 8x10s.
  3. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    Conan's show has a recent SVT rig on hand as well as some other house gear - guitar amps and a Hammond B3.

    Since these shows tape in big entertainment cities, there's always a number of companies that rent music related gear located there. Many acts rent from them if they are short on some stuff.

    When I was involved with that, the Ampeg rigs were always out. They were the most popular and most requested. Aside from that, a lot of national groups simply use Ampeg.
  4. The Ampeg SVT is generally the most popular bass amp on the market, and even if they didn't have their own, they'd still rent it for their show to make sure they got the best sound possible. SVT's just sound great for rock and similar genres, they are considered to be a standard I guess.
  5. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    Conan has Ampeg and Eden as a backline. People shouldn't believe that artists get gear for free. I have never seen it. They at least pay cost for the stuff they use.
  6. 57pbass

    57pbass Supporting Member

    How come the more money and famous you become the more free stuff you get...it does not make sense...
  7. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    Like I said, they at least pay cost. I don't know of any company that gives their stuff away.
  8. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Those amps you see are owned by the show/production company. If you see two bands on Letterman over the course of two weeks, and they both use an SVT, its the SAME SVT.

    SVT's are large, powerful, and familiar, so they make a good choice for backline use. It really has nothing to do with being "the best", just familiar and fitting. Besides, 99% of the time you're hearing the bass DI'd into the TV studio's board and the audience doesn't even hear the amp.

    In the 80s, the GK 800RB seemed to be the standard head for backline, usually coupled with one (and only one) Hartke 410.
  9. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    The reason certain amps are used is that most of the time, the groups playing Leno, Conan, etc are on the road on and fly in to do the show. They usually have to rent some gear to do the show. What is the most popular bass rig on TV? Ampeg. Why? because it is generally reliable, easily available and most players know that they can get a decent working tone out of it. Most equipment rental companies, such as SIR, readily have Ampegs in stock for those very reasons.

    That Ampeg you see on your favorite talk show used by your favorite band has probably been used there with 10 other acts over the years.......
  10. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    FYI, they can get whatever they want.

    and its whatever SIR or Drum Doctors have on hand on their gear roster. they just happen to choose SVT's and the like, pay the rental, and that's that.

    course, its nice to know that at least Mike Merritt has good taste. ;)

  11. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Most of my friends who do those shows try to get what they want, but they sometimes can't. Doesn't always work out that way.

    Good taste is subjective.
  12. I think some of the more well known bands use their own amps. Seeing Green Day on Letterman the other night, it was pretty clear that Mike Dirnt was using his own Fender 8x10's (the ones in the red cases)
  13. True. In pro circuits people like to know what they are dealing with. Reliability and familiarity are the keywords, they don´t want to be experimenting on the gig. Same thing with Shure SM58; it may not be the best mic in the world, but every soundguy knows its pros and cons by heart.

    Ease of use is also important with backline gear. Put something unusual on the stage like EBS pre with a subtractive EQ, and the average bassist can´t even get sound out of it. Soundguys have enough work without teaching the players how to use their gear.
  14. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    I Don't know where you get that from but Tom Barney (Steeley Dan and 1st call Studio bassist) has an Aguilar, Eden , ESP, and Dean markey string endorsements. He gets it all FREE! They send him what they got, he gets strings by the cases. It depends on who you are! Woodchuck here has a GK endorsement I believe, ask him.
  15. the dude

    the dude Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    Even as a DI it is still providing that distinctive SVT sound, no?

    Great responses.

    Very interesting.

    I've also noticed the guitarists and drummers seem to have every brand/model available. The guitarists in particular - everything from older stuff to boutique amps. My impression is that it's only the SVTs that you see over and over.

    Another question for the guys in the know - I often see the bass going to a small box on top of the head. Some sort of pre-preamp - or just a tuner?
  16. Probably a DI box.
  17. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    There is one other MAJOR issue. Getting an amp on one of those shows is great pub! Companies work very hard to get "placement."

    In reality an SVT with 8x10 is overkill for these gigs, but seeing an 8x10 with a big logo works a hell of a lot better than placing a 1x12 with a logo that is unrecognizable to the TV audience.

    As for Mike Dirnt example - Fender has a great deal of $ tied up in Mike Dirnt. There was no way he wouold not be playing a Fender amp on TV.

  18. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    In the latest interview with Dirnt in Bass Player, he states pretty directly that he prefers the Fender rig to his SVT rig so I doubt that Fender's $$ had anything to do with his choice.

    Dude, if the bass is going right to the board via DI the amp has no effect on the sound. It acts as just a stage monitor.
  19. I've seen nearly EVERY Conan and Leno show ( I work overnights at an NBC affiliate and HAVE to watch them), and although SVT Classic stacks are common, I've seen Accugroove, Eden, Aguilar, and SWR whole bunches more bass gear on the shows. Believe it or not, I've seen Accugroove on Conan almost as much as Ampeg. Unless it's a fairly young new band, they're generally carrying their touring backline. When the Allman Brothers played Leno, there was barely room on the stage for THEM because they had their road setups.
  20. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    First off, I am not your "dude"

    Mike Dirnt has a financial relationship with Fender. This relationship is a 2 way street. Fender provides gear and probably tour support ($$$). In return Fender gets Mike Dirnt's name and likeness. They also get his exclusivity. He might love his Fender gear, that is not what is in question. What is in question is product placement. It is about having their product seen on national TV. It is about millions of people, some of who are msucians, seeing the gear. We all know they are going direct. All they really near is in-the-ear monitors. So why have an 8x10. I will reiterate, it is about Product Placement